2011 44¢ Odysseus
Issue Date: September 28, 2011
City: New York, NY
Printed By: Avery Dennison
Printing Method: Photogravure
Romare Bearden once said, “What I’ve attempted to do is establish a world through art in which the validity of my Negro experience could live and make its own logic.”
To make that goal a reality, Bearden used collages, like those pictured on the 2011 stamps, to share his experiences. He used materials that seem to be unrelated and put them together to form masterpieces.
Bearden’s life itself was like a collage in many respects. Born in rural North Carolina, Bearden moved with his family to New York City’s Harlem. This close-knit community was the center of black culture at the time. His parents hosted jazz musicians, popular artists, and writers in their home. These childhood experiences, combined with his years at college, service in the U.S. Army, and art studies in Paris formed a sort of mosaic that is reflected in many of his pieces.
Bearden helped found the Spiral Group during the 1960s, which served as both an outlet for his talent and increased his social awareness. A gathering of black artists, the group used art to make their voices heard in the struggle for Civil Rights. In 1963, Bearden recommended the members make a collage together. That was his first attempt with the technique, a form he favored for the rest of his life and used to show the richness of black culture.
Bearden was a talented black artist and an innovative American craftsman who used his work to speak for his culture.